Managing Privacy and Security Online
According to a survey run by the Pew Research Center, as of this year, nearly 66% of over 65s in the US are now internet users. The beauty of the internet is that it’s open to anyone, and there’s no qualification needed to use it, however this makes it even more important that we educate ourselves on how to keep our online activity safe and secure.
Social Media Around 56% of seniors now use Facebook, making it even easier to reconnect with old friends or faraway relatives. The transition onto social media has been fairly rapid for the boomer generation, meaning that certain steps to keep accounts secure are being missed. Often, particularly on Facebook, accounts can be hacked easily due to poor security. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps you can take to protect your social media accounts:
Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
Use strong passwords with a variety of characters.
Make sure to review your privacy settings regularly, social media platforms change their terms of service regularly and sometimes this can change the visibility of your profile.
Email Much of the boomer generation is perhaps more familiar with email than with social media. Using email comes with its own set of unique benefits and challenges, and requires us to take different precautions with our online safety. It’s a great way to exchange longer messages and other media with a huge outreach; almost everyone has an email address. However, scammers use email’s universality to exploit those less knowledgeable, and some particularly insidious scams can con people out of thousands of dollars. Some of the most convincing scams, again, bank on services that have become almost universally used. A couple going round at the moment claim to be from Amazon and PayPal, alleging that you are owed money from a refund and asking you to follow a link to login to your account. The formatting of these emails is identical to those sent by the companies themselves, so the best way to check if they are legitimate is to click on the email address field. If the address does not include the company’s domain (for example, amazon.com or paypal.com), you can be sure it’s a scam. Using some common sense goes a long a way, if you haven’t bought anything from amazon or using paypal recently, then you won’t be due any sort of refund. Using the internet for accessing services The majority of the services we use are now, at least in part, powered by the internet. Many of us now use the internet to do our banking and interact with government agencies. Following on from the previous section in the blog, it is important to note that government agencies such as the IRS (US) or HMRC (UK) will never contact you via email or any other online medium. Likewise, never give out your social security or national insurance number out online either, the SSA (US) or DWP (UK) will never contact you via email. It may seem like a lot to remember, but you can always bookmark this page for future reference. Trust your gut, if something seems off about email and social media activity, report it.